Memories of 2011 still haunt us: Mayor honours flood heroes
Monday, 11 January 2021 marked 10 years since floods devastated parts of Ipswich and areas across the south east Queensland region.
To some in our city, it still feels like yesterday. It is a very emotional time and topic for so many in our community.
Images of flood-hit Ipswich, our CBD under so much water, and the Bremer River near the 1974 flood peak, continue to haunt residents to this day.
While these were tremendously tough times, my memories a decade on are of Ipswich coming together and people – in many cases anonymously – helping each other.
The real Ipswich strength and resilience, characteristics we are known so well for in times of disaster, shone through constantly as we joined in the mammoth clean-up and recovery effort.
Everyone seemed to chip in and lend a helping hand. The city, as it does so often, fought back against the brown tide to get back on our feet.
Having said that, my heart goes out to the Ipswich residents fighting 10 years later for adequate compensation for their pain and suffering and loss of home and property.
Everyone remembers where they were, what they were doing and how it affected them in 2011.
I was working at RAAF Base Amberley managing the decommissioning of the F-111 aircraft. I had three civilian staff in Bundamba whose homes where completed flooded and many civilian and military staff in Karalee who were completely isolated for over a week.
Along with work colleagues, we went to the homes of our three workmates to be there for them emotionally and to also clean the walls and floors of their homes as the insurance assessors would not come out to assess homes until they were Workplace Health and Safety-safe for the assessors to visit.
The impact of the flood and dealing with insurance companies was such an emotional time for impacted families.
It was also emotional for the families in our northern suburbs too who were cut off by road and had no power for a week. Supplies were eventually helicoptered in.
While Brisbane and its mud army received considerable public attention, the impacts and efforts in Goodna, Colleges Crossing, Karalee, Bundamba and Ipswich Central were no less amazing and a tribute to our incredible human spirit.
Ipswich City Council played a significant part in the reconstruction of the city, helped by State and Federal Government grants, to rebuild and reshape our region.
To this day, council is still working hard on flood preparation and management with a significant undertaking, the Ipswich Integrated Catchment Plan, completed after much community consultation and set to be adopted by council this year.
This plan is a massive body of work and will shape council’s actions and future investment in everything from land use planning to new infrastructure, through to community awareness and waterway health.
The feedback from the community is of enormous value, from people who live in flood prone areas to those observing natural disasters. Their experiences from 2011 have provided valuable details for council.
The community input has been combined with extensive technical work to develop the plan, which will chart the way forward for the whole city. These actions will be important for the whole community going forward.
While 1974 and 2011 might have been the “one-in-a-hundred” type floods, we are only too well aware that huge rain and storms can hit us at any time.
But council and the community will be ready. We will be prepared for whatever weather comes our way and deal with it like we always do … with true guts and determination, and best of all, together.